World Mental Health Day is a fantastic opportunity to get people talking about it as we all need to at some point in our lives. One day looking after our mental health will be considered equally as important as looking after our physical health and I am immensely proud of the work I am doing with the LTA to make that happen.
My relationship with depression and anxiety is much harder to decipher, perhaps because I still feel in the midst of these disorders. I manage a social, professional and personal life, but I'm plagued by defeating thoughts. Anxiety makes minor setbacks or small tasks morph in size. Yet I take it slowly, remembering things I've learnt to make me feel better.
In an ideal world obviously I would love for everyone to be vegan, so I don't want this post to be seen as telling people with eating disorders to run off and bite the nearest sheep immediately. What I am saying is that if you are vegan or have a friend who has recently turned vegan, be sure to question it (especially if they have a history of eating disorders), and be fully aware of why that choice has been made.
This is the first ever global day dedicated to eating disorders, and professionals from 40 different countries and activists from all over the world are taking part. It could not have come soon enough for us here in the UK where the number of young people hospitalised for an eating disorder has doubled in the past three years.
Last night, I was watching one of my favourite programmes when, out of the blue, a male character made a joke about bulimia. When attempting to flirt with a lady at a bar, he joked that to get a figure 'as great as hers' she must've repeatedly made herself sick. It was meant to evoke a chuckle from the audience, but it was one joke that I simply couldn't laugh at. Bulimia is many things, but the one thing it isn't? Funny.
It's hard to know exactly how, or what, to say to someone with an eating disorder to make things all alright. Chances are you can't, but if you know someone who has fallen ill in this way you need to remember that what they're going through will always be much bigger and much tougher than your frustrations at not getting through to them.
From 2010 to 2013 I suffered quite badly with bulimia. I was always of average weight, so no body really looked at me any differently or noticed. It ended up getting quite bad, to the point where I was hospitalised at the end of 2011 with pneumonia and a collapsed lung - caused by the vomit that had been trapped in my chest area from purging all the time.
Many of us with eating disorders, like to personify the illness as a separate person or voice. 'Ana' for Anorexia and 'Mia' for Bulimia. Don't get me wrong; Ana is definitely not a 'friend' even though the internal voice I hear says otherwise. Personifying my eating disorder is definitely something that I found rather useful in my road to recovery.